KC Royals: Was Brett Lawrie Slide Into Escobar Really Dirty?

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Jun 21, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics infielder Brett Lawrie (15) prepares to slide safely into second base after hitting a double against the Los Angeles Angels in the second inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

CURRENT PLAYERS DON’T KNOW HOW TO SLIDE 

Thirty years ago, collisions at second base were far more common. Breaking up a double play was a baseball fundamental that guys practiced every day.

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  • Part of it was the lower run-scoring environment in the pre-steroid era. Teams had to do the little things to score runs before station-to-station baseball became the norm due to the rise of sabermetrics and an offensive era when balls regularly flew out of the park.

    Clawing for extra baserunners by breaking up a double play didn’t seem worth it.

    Consequently, players don’t practice breaking up the double play like they did in days gone by.

    Current Phillies bench coach and former six-time All-Star shortstop Larry Bowa told Kurkjian:

    "“These guys today have no idea how to slide. It’s unreal to me. [Back when I played] we’d wear pads, we’d do hook slides, we’d practice how to get to the infielder if he was on the inside of the bag or if he stepped back to throw. There are so many intricacies of the game that good players today don’t know. How can guys be so athletic today and not know how to slide?”"

    Seattle coach Andy Van Slyke is also disturbed by the lack of sliding craft among today’s players. He told Kurkjian:

    "“Guys don’t know how to slide today,” Van Slyke said. “So many of the finer points of the game have been lost because we don’t teach them on the minor league level. When I came up with the Cardinals, [legendary instructor] George Kissel used to take us in the outfield grass — so we wouldn’t tear up our legs — throw a base down, we’d put on sliding pants, and we’d practice sliding into a base. We practice sliding today, but it’s in spring training, it’s indoors and it’s on mats. That’s not sliding. And we’re not teaching how to break up a double play.”"

    However, today’s players lack of sliding craft explains only part of the problem:

    Next: Today's Middle Infielders Don't Know How To Protect Themselves

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